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7/9/19 12:22 am CT (de Noves, France)
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
This is Scott checking in one last time from the south of France before moving on to the last leg of our vacation, which will consist of two days in Basel, Switzerland. This has been an amazing vacation that my family will remember forever, and the hospitality we’ve been shown has been nothing short of amazing. I hate to be leaving this beautiful place, but also appreciate that my craving for rice and gravy will soon be satisfied. (The food has been outstanding here, but you know what I mean.) Anyway, thanks to Jake Martin for continuing to dish out your daily dose of Tiger news, which we’ll get to now.
In today’s report, we’ll wrap up our position series by looking at the special teams unit, but before we do, here’s a little bit more updated information regarding the LSU baseball news that broke Sunday night…
It looks all but official at this point that Eddie Smith will, in fact, be the Tigers’ new hitting coach. News broke Sunday night that Sean Ochinko would no longer serve as the Tigers volunteer coach and hitting coach, and D1Baseball.com’s Kendall Rogers broke the news that Smith would join the Tigers’ staff. Since then, The Advocate and Tiger Rag have confirmed through sources the Tulane assistant will join the Tigers staff. Smith served as the Green Wave’s hitting coach, third base coach and recruiting coordinator the past three years. LSU has yet to confirm the news, as the school awaits the results of a background check, which should be cleared later this week.
Now to conclude our football position series…
There are aspects to LSU’s special teams in 2018 that reached legendary status. I think you know good and well what we’re referencing, as visions of Cole Tracy’s walk-off field goal against Auburn flood your collective minds. But there were other aspects that left a void for Tiger fans. In fact, if you wanted to see an electric punt return you had to pull up YouTube on your phone and search for Odell Beckham, TréDavious White or D.J. Chark, to name a few recent Tiger returners. Hopefully, instead of pulling up that app, you can just tune in on Saturdays when another new Tiger gives it a go. Derek Stingley might not start out as the Tigers’ punt returner for the season opener, but comments from the coaching staff indicate that his time is coming. The coaches raved about his natural ability at the position, so expect more highlight reel returns to Tigers Stadium sooner rather than later. And that would be a nice change following a season where LSU averaged 5.8 yards per return (11th in theSEC). Kary Vincent, Ja’Marr Chase and Jontré Kirklin could also return some kicks in 2019. Vincent and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are expected to return kickoffs. Edwards-Helaire returned 17 kicks for an average return of 24.5 yards in 2018. He had a 70-yard return against UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. Zach Von Rosenberg returns as the team’s starting punter after averaging 45.7 yards per punt in 2018. And Cade York has his hands full as he tries to replace the instant legend Tracy became. As we’ve stated several times on this site, York enters with a ton of hype after nailing an Under Armour Game record 59-yard field goal last January. We’ll see if he can provide the same consistency Tracy did on Saturdays this fall.
Now, as we hit the 53-day mark on our countdown to Game Day, let’s revisit one of the all-time classic meetings between LSU and Ole Miss, and no, it might not be some of classics you’re thinking of. In 2003, before LSU earned the right to play Oklahoma as a one-loss team in the 2004 BCS National Championship Game, the Tigers had to get through a Top 15 Ole Miss squad on the road for a heavily anticipated bout. And while many remember this as the game Eli Manning tripped over his offensive lineman’s foot on the last fourth down attempt of the game, Tiger fans should also remember the play that would give LSU enough cushion to pull out the hard-fought road victory. After struggling for the better part of three quarters, Matt Mauck opened the fourth quarter by rolling to his left on 3rd-and-7 before throwing a perfect corner route to Devery Henderson, who caught it around the 20-yard line and sprinted into the end zone. The 53-yard score put the Tigers up 17-7, and the Tigers would go on to survive, 17-14, en route to winning their first national championship since the 1958 season. Henderson has made a lot of big catches in the state of Louisiana during his football career, both as a Tiger and as a Saint, but this one ranks right up there with most. (Of course, nothing will ever compare to the Bluegrass Miracle.) We should also give kudos to Mauck for making the throw. The Tigers dug themselves in an early hole on the road as Mauck threw a pick-six on the first possession of the game. He went on to throw a total of three interceptions in the game, but showed the resiliency of a Tiger when he hung tough and made big throws when it mattered. To relive this game in highlight form, click here. LSU’s defense was unbelievable against Manning, sacking him three times in the victory.
• If you’re looking for something to watch tonight, how about catching a couple of former Tigers in the MLB All-Star Game? DJ LeMahieu and Alex Bregman will start in tonight’s game for the American League at Progressive Field in Cleveland. LeMahieu leads the league with a .336 batting average, while Bregman leads the Astros with 23 homers on the year.
• LSU junior golfer Kendall Griffin won the Florida Women’s Amateur stroke play title at the Black Diamond Ranch GC Sunday. Griffin finished the three-round tourney with a 1-over 217.
7/8/19 12:53 am CT (de Noves, France)
Good morning, Tiger Fans,
Hope y’all have enjoyed our position series as we have continued to preview each unit on the Tigers roster as the season draws closer. It’s crazy to think in just a week from now, we’ll be watching LSU take the main stage on the SEC Network and ESPN at the 2019 SEC Media Days. To hold over our appetite until then, let’s dive back into our position series and what should be undoubtedly the best unit in the country. But before we continue our series, we had some breaking news last night…
The LSU baseball team will have a new hitting coach next spring. D1Baseball.com’s Kendall Rogers reported last night that Tulane assistant and recruiting coordinator Eddie Smith would replace Sean Ochinko as a volunteer and hitting coach. Tiger Rag’s James Moran tweeted he confirmed through a source that Ochinko was out at LSU, but that LSU head coach Paul Mainieri said he could neither confirm nor deny the report of Smith joining the staff. Ochinko completed his second season as LSU’s volunteer and assistant coach earlier this year. Stay tuned on this topic as I’m sure more will unfold over the next few days.
Moving on to our football series…
Hopefully whatever silly argument teams like Florida attempt to make are over — LSU is clearly, undeniably DBU. The Tigers will prove that again this season when they trot out a secondary that Athlon ranked as the No. 1 defensive backfield in 2019. We share Athlon’s opinion. And speaking of Athlon, let’s put it to you this way: Athlon does a preseason list of its Top 50 returning college football players every year, and on that 2019 list reside two LSU Tigers. You guessed it, they’re both in the secondary. Grant Delpit was listed as the No. 8 player in the country after becoming the ninth player in school history to receive unanimous All-American honors. LSU’s returning safety did it all last season with 74 tackles, five sacks, five interceptions and a forced fumble. The other Tiger to make the list was cornerback Kristian Fulton, who allowed only 39.5 percent of throws to be completed in his direction in 2018, according to Pro Football Focus. That’s enough to carry on the legacy of DBU, but it gets so much better. Because opposite of Fulton will be one of the most hyped up incoming LSU Tigers in quite some time, Derek Stingley. If you can judge off of one small spring game performance alone, Stingley is destined to become the next great defensive back at LSU. Stingley drew applause with an athletic interception in the public scrimmage. Kary Vincent will likely start at the nickel safety and play some corner, as well, while Kelvin Joseph, Jontre Kirklin and Mannie Netherly will serve as reserve corners. Think back to a year ago when Joseph was forced to start as a true freshman, and did a fine job I might add. But this is the difference of 2019. LSU shouldn’t have a situation where it has to worry about having enough bodies to fill out a secondary in a bowl game, because the Tigers are also bringing in other talented freshmen like Maurice Hampton, Cordale Flott, Raydarious Jones and Jay Ward. Yeah, corner will be just fine next year. And as for who will be playing alongside Delpit at safety, the best guess might actually be JaCoby Stevens, following his strong finish to the 2018 season. Stevens recorded 14 tackles and looked like an absolute beast against Texas A&M before following up with a six-tackle performance against UCF. Stevens was fifth on the team last season with 6.5 tackles for loss, also. It isn’t a given he’ll start, though, because Todd Harris will be right there pushing for playing time. And don’t count incoming freshman Marcel Brooks out either. While LSU was still incredibly talented in 2018, the Tigers lacked depth for the first time in a while at the position. As you can see, that won’t be the case in 2019.
In just 54 days, the LSU football team will take the field against Georgia Southern with what should be one of the best defenses in the country. And there are many reasons to think that way. Just two of those many reasons are the return of Rashard Lawrence and Michael Divinity, who each recorded 54 tackles last season. As vital pieces of LSU’s front seven this season, they bring different elements to an LSU defense that should be immensely deep and talented. For Lawrence, he’s a returning defensive end that’s coming off of his best performance of his career — five tackles and two sacks (Defensive MVP). Lawrence has seen the field in all three years he’s been on campus, though he’s suffered numerous injuries in his LSU career. Lawrence, by far, had his most productive season yet with 54 tackles and four sacks a season ago. But in many ways, Lawrence’s production was expected. Divinity’s 54 tackles and five sacks weren’t. Divinity was coming off of a season where he recorded just 15 tackles and one sack, but he worked his way onto the field and was a consistent producer for the Tigers last fall. Now, he’s made the switch from outside linebacker to inside linebacker, as Dave Aranda wants a vocal leader in the middle. Divinity can run like and pursue the quarterback like an outside linebacker but also has the physical build (6’2”, 238 pounds) to be a tenacious run stopper as well. It isn’t shocking to hear that LSU’s defense is expected to be one of the best in the country again, and these two Tigers are big reason why. To get you more excited for more highlight reel plays from Divinity, here are his season highlights which can serve as your caffeine kick this morning.
• Former LSU golfer Sam Burns enjoyed a bogey-free, 7-under par Sunday to finish 16-under in the PGA Tour. That was good for a Top 10 finish as Burns tied four others in seventh place.
• In track news, LSU’s Jason Flournoy was named Runner of the Year, while freshman star pole vaulter Mondo Duplantis was named Field Athlete and Freshman of the Year by the Louisiana Sports Writer’s Association track and Field honors list. National sprint winner Sha’Carri Richardson doubled up as Runner and Freshman of the Year for the women.
• After a 14-point, 14-rebound performance against the Washington Wizards, former Tiger Kavell Bigby-Williams continued to turn heads with the Pelicans. Rod Walker of The Advocate had a nice feature on Bigby-Williams, who went from one practice and shoot around to dominating summer league play.
• As many of you know, former LSU great Johnny Robinson will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month. Dandy Don contributor Jake Martin got to catch up with Robinson, along with others, about chasing Robinson’s long journey of becoming a hall of famer. You can check out that story here.
Reader Comments: Scott, I’m sure you saw we have a new hitting coach, according to D1 baseball. Here’s an interesting chart. It looks like we got a good one in Eddie Smith.
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